Nothing as sweet as victory for Sorcerer Dean/Kimura, winners of five games Sunday and 14u Power Pool Gold title
by Alissa Noe
WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Five games in a single day didn’t seem to wear out Sorcerer Dean/Kimura. If anything, the jam-packed schedule fueled the team out of Martinez, Calif. more in the title game of the 14U National Power Pool Gold bracket at Christopher Fields on Sunday afternoon.
An hour after flattening Epic National in a 9-1 campaign, Sorcerer came out firing on all cylinders against Birmingham Thunderbolts Thompson. They pulled no punches but battered the Bolts in at-bat after at-bat to win an 11-6, sugar-induced victory.
“It was crazy,” right fielder Kymber Dao said. “We were all really tired and we all just had to eat a bunch of candy and energy drinks to really get our energy up and make sure we were ready for this game. Our team is very talented. We always push very hard no matter what, no matter if we're tired or not. No matter if we have candy or not.”
Earlier weather delays constrained the game to just two innings, but that's all Sorcerer needed to secure the Gold.
Sorcerer enjoyed maximum offensive production from Dao, who hit doubles in each of her at-bats, drove in three runs and scored two herself. Shortstop Laila Dean and catcher Bella Granata added their own fireworks with two RBI apiece.
“It really wasn't about their talent, which is off the charts. It was about what's inside of them and their heart and their desire to compete that really set them apart today,” coach John Dean said. “We swing the bat like few other teams, from top to bottom.”
With two outs down and three runners on in the top of the first inning, Laila Dean was the first to put runs on the board with a two-RBI base hit off of the glove of the Thunderbolts' shortstop.
Dao followed her lead, securing her own RBI with a shot to deep center field, before a Thunderbolts error sent two more runners home. Kyla Lujan, soon after, then bombed a ball over the left field wall to put her team up 6-0 after the opening inning of play.
Sorcerer didn't stop there.
On the first pitch of her at-bat in the top of the second, Bella Granata joined in on the fun with her own two-RBI moonshot, which she powered over the center field wall. Dao doubled up on her opening-inning performance with a shot to the same area — this time bouncing off the glove of the center fielder — with another trip to second base and two more RBI to her name.
McKena Harvey rounded out the top of the second with a fielder's choice at third to send another run home and give her team an 11-0 edge. That's when Birmingham's offense woke up, and it certainly made its last gasp of the tournament count.
The Bolts opened the bottom of second frame with three straight hits, and their first RBI belonged to Klara Thompson, whose hard line drive past second base allowed a run to score.
Three batters later, Sorcerer walked Riley Reynolds home to make it 11-2. Corey Goguts kept the party going with the hour, 15-minute deadline fast approaching, as she secured an RBI base hit that followed with another run thanks to an error.
A bit of fielding miscommunication in the final minutes allowed two more runs to score, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early hole that Sorcerer dug. Now, Sorcerer will enter its next tournament with the added confidence of a hard-fought victory.
“It just seemed to be a little bit of confusion about time being on or time being off the clock,” Dean said. “Obviously, they're a really good team, and we didn't want to give them a lot of opportunities to come back. They were putting runs on the board with great effort to get here by them and we felt we needed to make a pitching change in the end to kind of bring in a pitcher (who was) a little bit stronger, a little bit more rested.”
OC Batbusters White Hudson offense hits on all cylinders in 14U National Power Pool championship win over Impact Gold 2K9
By Courtney Oakes
AURORA, Colo. -- Ten out of 10 softball players agree, a ball hit hard in Colorado definitely goes farther.
Lindsay Hudson agreed with that sentiment and the No. 9 hitter for a potent OC Batbusters White Hudson team is grateful for that bit of physics.
Hudson homered in the second inning and came up a triple short of the cycle as part of a 16-hit attack as the Batbusters topped the Impact Gold 2K9 National 11-5 in the 14U National Power Pool championship game of the Colorado 4th of July event at the Aurora Sports Park on Sunday.
“This Colorado air definitely hits different than California air,” said Hudson, whose big fly came in the second inning as she added a double in the fourth inning and RBI single in the fifth.
“(The home run) felt pretty good and definitely made me smile. It made me think of my mom back home watching on Gamechanger.”
Mom — and those fans in attendance to watch the Anaheim, California-based program — got plenty to get excited about with the performance of the Batbusters, who went 3-0 on the final day and finished 9-1 on the tournament.
A dangerous offense had a lot to do with the success, as coach Toby Hudson’s team averaged nearly nine runs per contest. It exceeded that in the victory over the Impact.
It was on display immediately, as the Batbusters notched four runs in the opening inning against standout starter Macie Bryant of the Impact. A two-run single by Lianna Ferrara and a two-run home run by Gianna Garcia put runs on the board, while two of the three outs came via deep fly balls.
It was just a preview of the rest of the game, in which eight of the 10 players who got at least one at-bat had a base hit, seven different players scored runs and Lindsay Hudson, Garcia, Ferrera, Madelyn Armendariz and Piper Kawanaka each drove in two runs.
“This team has been hitting the whole tournament, it’s been amazing,” Toby Hudson said. “We’ve hit lots of home runs, scored a lot of runs. I’m super proud of everybody.”
A four-run fifth inning included Kawanaka’s pinch-hit two-run single and run-scoring hits by Hudson and Reagan Beck. All that meant a lot to starting pitcher Kylee Jepson, who knew she didn’t have to be perfect.
“The insurance runs really helped,” said Jepson, who limited the damage despite allowing 12 hits. “It made me feel really special because I didn’t have to go out and be stressed or nervous. My team really helped with that.”
Jepson did a solid job holding down an Impact team that could swing it as well. They made it to the championship game with a dramatic semifinal win that ended in walk-off fashion on a home run by Celestina Daniels.
Jepson pitched a complete game and did so without recording a single strikeout. After ceding two runs in the bottom of the first, she allowed just three more runs in the ensuing six frames with help from her defense.
A diving stop and throw out from third baseman Kylie Tafua to end the fifth inning snuffed out a potential rally and were among the strong plays made in the field.
“I try to throw strikes and get ahead and just try to help my defense out,” Jepson said.
Added Hudson: “Kylee worked hard and kept grinding. That’s what she does.”
Coach Jared Bryant’s Impact team did get two run-scoring hits from Torie Turner as well as a two-run home run in the fourth inning off the bat of Amariee Bradford, who hit the first pitch she saw over the fence after a double by teammate Izzy Lawrence.
A triple in the sixth inning by Kierstyn Lambeth, who scored on Turner’s single, accounted for the last run for the Impact.
The win capped an interesting week for the Batbusters, who didn’t have a game for two days in the middle of the tournament because of weather interruptions.
It didn’t slow them, however, as they won three times Saturday and three times Sunday, starting with a 9-6 win over Iowa Premier 14U National, which had blanked them 4-0 four days earlier in their lone defeat. The Batbusters then held off a different Impact team (Gold National Mendoza) 7-6 in the semifinals in a game that ended with a batter tagged out at home plate.
“It’s been a great weekend, even without getting to play for two days,” Toby Hudson said. “It was a hard fought battle and these girls worked their tails off. I’m super proud of them.”
There was no rest — yet — for the Batbusters, who after getting the tournament trophy and packing up their equipment had to rush off to the airport to head home after the game went longer than expected.
“This was great, but now we have a flight in about an hour,” Lindsay Hudson said.
Belief never wavers for VA Unity Johnson-Ross as rally leads to 16u Power Pool title at Colorado 4th of July
By Kyle Koso
AURORA, Colo. – What jumped out about the celebration was just how un-celebratory the moment felt.
In the 16u Power Pool title game Sunday at the Colorado 4th of July event, Esther White launched a home run for the Virginia Unity Johnson/Ross squad to start the second inning. Teammates gathered at home plate to welcome her; she got a few pats on the helmet and almost silently the Unity returned to the dugout, now trailing 4-2 against the Oklahoma Athletics Madden-Clemmer at the Aurora Sports Park.
There was no pranking or disrespect implied – ultimately, the Unity simply knew their work was just beginning. That dedication to righting the ship and fulfilling their potential shined brightly in the end as the Unity (Rockvale, TN) claimed a 15-6 victory to earn one of the most prized championships at Triple Crown’s signature fastpitch tournament.
“After Essie hit the home run, I think we were, ‘OK this is how we thought this would go.’ We certainly didn’t think four runs would win the game, and you saw we put up 15,” said Unity coach Tommy Bain. “We were able to get right back in the game.”
Frankie Vrazel singled and scored in the first for Unity, and the Athletics came flying out of the gate as the first four batters reached and scored in the bottom of the frame. The key hit came from Hannah Wells, who sat back on a changeup and muscled a single to right that drove in two runs.
The Unity made a pitching change and called up the right reliever in Jayden Heavener, who is committed to play college softball at LSU and allowed just one hit over three innings, calming the waters until the team could mount the comeback. Heavener herself hit a two-run homer in the third as the Unity plated six runs and asserted control of the contest.
“Mentally, I just stay calm. I know I have a good defense and our hitters are well able to get runners in,” said Heavener, who struck out five batters. “As a group, we used (falling behind) as motivation. We knew we’d come back, we just wanted to do that earlier in the game and not wait until the seventh game where it was a close game. I’m very excited – I haven’t hit a lot this season, but I’m glad we could do this here.”
Ramsey Walker (Arkansas) hit two home runs for Unity; she and White (Georgia) each had three RBI, with White wrapping up the scoring with a triple in the fifth. Destiny Harris (LSU) drove in two runs and Vrazel (Texas A&M) had an outstanding day from the leadoff spot with four hits, three stolen bases and three runs scored.
“I was waiting for a pitch that I could drive and hit hard, not go after her pitch but wait for mine,” Walker said. “We trust each other; we pass the bat and started doing what we know how to do. It was a battle, the whole pitching staff backed each other up, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
”The first at-bat of the game, I like to not get ahead of myself. Even if I take a strike first pitch, I know I have the whole at-bat to work,” Vrazel said. “I hunt for strikes after that, and the first one I see I try to do my job with that. I knew there was a whole game left after we fell behind; we’ve been behind before, and we always come through.”
The Athletics (Bethany, OK) showed one last push in the fifth with solo home runs from Karsen Griggs (Kansas) and Libby Jaques; reliever Morgen Talley wrapped up a bases-loaded jam by getting the final two outs on a liner to shortstop and fly to center.
“We knew all the pitchers were fresh; we’ve got a deep team with 15 kids and we carry four very good pitchers,” Bain added. “No one had been overworked – we felt we’d come in today with the deepest staff, and I think we showed that.”
In the 16u Supplemental Power Pool title game, Tennessee Mojo 2025-Gregory (Portland, TN) topped Preps Academy National-Lopez (Fair Oaks, CA) by a score of 14-1.
AURORA, Colo. – It was a week to be proud of for Head Coach Dave Mercado and the Athletics Mercado 18u Gold team, who went 10-0 on their way to back-to-back Colorado 4th of July 18u Power Pool titles.
After winning the 18u TV Power Pool Championship earlier in the week, Athletics Mercado completed the perfect week with a 7-6 victory over Stryker National Esparza in the 18u Power Pool National Championship.
“I’m proud of them,” Mercado said. “It’s been an up and down battle for us through the season, and we are starting to heat up at the right time which is the name of the game. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Stryker National Esparza struck first in the contest, scoring a run in the top of the first inning off Athletics Mercado’s ace pitcher, Cambria Salmon. After that, Salmon settled down and was nearly unhittable from the second through sixth innings. Athletics Mercado took advantage of Salmon’s pitching and took the lead in the bottom of the second inning when Makenzie Butt launched a solo home run to deep center field followed by Alexa Rosales doing the same just a couple of batters later.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Butt once again found the distance with a solo home run to left field to extend the lead to 3-1, where the score remained until the sixth inning. With three runners on base, Rosales stepped up to the plate and delivered the game-winning grand slam to give Athletics Mercado a 7-1 lead heading into the final inning.
“Up and down, even our slappers have power, but those two (Butt and Rosales) have been very consistent for us,” Mercado said. “It’s been good, they’ve been coming up big.”
The grand slam proved to be more than just insurance runs as Stryker National found their groove once again in the top of the seventh inning and relied on some timely hitting, as well as some defensive miscues from Athletics Mercado, to get back into the game at 7-6. With the tying runner on second base, however, Salmon slammed the door shut on the comeback with a strikeout to secure the title for Athletics Mercado.
VA Glory 14u National Ladia hangs on in a nail-biter for the 14u Supplemental Power Pool Championship
July 2, 2023
Loveland, Colo – Nobody ever said winning was easy, especially when you are at Triple Crown’s Colorado 4th of July. Sunday’s game was a perfect example of how you respond to early losses and adversity, as two teams that started the tournament slow, persevered to fight their way down to the final outs of the event. Virginia Glory 14u National Ladia and Breakers Labs Keush-14u battled it out for the 2023 14u Supplemental Power Pool Championship on Sunday afternoon in an instant classic matchup.
After sluggish starts for both teams earlier in the week to begin play in Colorado, VA Glory carried a five-game winning streak into the title game, while Breakers Labs was riding a six-game stretch of wins.
Breakers Lab third baseman Addie Taufa, wasted little time in her first at-bat, launching a home run over the left field fence to give her team a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Within a matter of minutes, Lillana McAnaw delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the first to tie it up, 1-1.
VA Glory first baseman Mya Cook came up big the follow inning, delivering an RBI single laced into centerfield, putting the Northern Virginia based club back on top 2-1, after two innings. Cook proved to have more where that came from later in the contest.
Breakers’ Charlee Carrillo’s single in the top of the third, followed by a Taufa single to left gave Breakers Labs their final lead of the game, 3-2. Taufa went 2-for-2 on the day with a pair of RBIs for her team.
In the bottom of the third, Glory catcher Abby Burns doubled to center, scoring Myla Harding and Liliana McAnaw, and regaining a lead 4-3 for the Glory and ending the brief outing of Breakers’ reliever Ashlyn Darrow.
In the fifth, Cook added to her impressive day with some insurance, via a solo shot to dead center, extending the VA Glory lead to 5-3. Insurance run aside, things got interesting in the bottom half of the sixth with the game’s time limit approaching.
With the bases loaded, starting pitcher Gabriela McAnaw, sister of shortstop Lillian, needed one out to secure the championship. Breakers’ Avery Walanksi hit a soft single to shallow left, plating one run and creating the play at the plate for the potential game-tying run. The shortstop proved to have her sister’s back, delivering a perfect throw from shallow left to get baserunner Leah Narvaez at the plate and secure the 5-4 victory.
With Head Coach Rachael Ladia, who recently gave birth and had to miss this year’s tournament, watching on at home on the live video stream, her players all waved as they received their medals and completed a remarkable championship run in Colorado.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The saying goes that big time players make big time plays in big time moments. Never was this truer than for Emily Yoon, who recovered from a disappointing pitching performance to hit the game-winning two-run home run to give her Bengals CKM 2010 the 2023 Colorado 4th of July 12u Title over the Corona Angels, 6-4.
“We’ve been playing good softball all year, and this was a goal of ours from the beginning of the year,” said Head Coach Paull Caffrey. “I’m just proud of their effort this week. The girls hit unbelievably well this week. We’re known for having good pitching, we’re spoiled with our staff, and they were amazing for us all week.”
In a championship game that featured two southern California teams very familiar with each other, it was a back-and-forth affair in front of raucous fans. Chants of “Let’s go Angels” and “Let’s go Bengals” permeated the facility. The Bengals looked poised to strike first in the top of the first inning, but the Corona Angels stepped up with a double play and threw a runner out at home to keep the game scoreless.
In the top of the second inning, Corona Angels once again got out of trouble, stranding two Bengals runners on second and third. The Bengals finally pulled through in the top of the third when Kaylyn Yi found the gap up the middle of the defense with a two-RBI single to give her team a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, the Angels finally got something going against Bengals’ pitcher Guliana Vega and scored one run to make it 2-1.
Vega helped her own cause in the top of the fourth inning with a two-RBI single to make it 4-1 and put the momentum right back in the hands of the Bengals. Vega exited the game and made way for Yoon, one of their star pitchers all year, to come pitch. It was not Yoon’s normal performance on the mound, however. The Angels found their offensive rhythm against Yoon came all the way back to tie the game at 4-4 as Yoon was forced to exit the game for Vega again.
Visibly upset in the dugout after relinquishing the lead, Yoon had little time to dwell on her poor performance.
“I feel like after I came out, I was really frustrated,” Yoon said. “I really wanted to help my team win though. Initially I just wanted to get on base, but then I heard them call for an inside pitch and I just turned on it.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Yoon heard the Angels call for an inside pitch. She sat waiting for the inside pitch and turned on it, launching it over left field for her first career home run, giving the Bengals a 6-4 win and the 12u championship.
“You couldn’t script it any better,” Caffrey said. “She has never struggled pitching like that for us all year. She has the most innings, she has the most strikeouts for us, she has been a dominant force. She was visibly upset, and I told her ‘Whatever happened there, you leave that there. That 15 seconds is over, now go win us the game.’ She did that and I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
By Courtney Oakes
AURORA, Colo. -- Until the hot bats got fully lit, the Indiana Magic just had to hang around in Saturday afternoon’s 16U Supplemental Power Pool contest at the Colorado 4th of July event.
Coach Bill Neace knew the offensive explosion was coming and it finally arrived in the fourth inning of the Magic’s contest against the hot-starting Empire State Huskies in a sun-splashed meeting at the Kennedy Sports Complex.
A five-run rally pushed Indiana in front for a 9-7 victory that moved the Carmel-based program to 6-1 going into the final day of the tournament. Sydney Vitangcol, Logan Rumble and Jayden Kleiner each had base hits that brought in two runs and Jaylynn Hobbs had the go-ahead single in the fourth for the Magic.
“We knew that if we stayed close, we would have a shot,” Neace said. “Our bats have been pretty hot the last three or four games. We started slow, but we kept it within reach and then struck when we needed to. …The good part about this team is they do not give up. If you just walk up to watch us play, you would not know the score of the game. We fight until the end.”
It was also possible not to know the score given the scoreboard in the outfield was dark, but the Magic themselves knew they had their work cut out for them with a 7-4 deficit against Empire State going into the bottom of the fourth inning with time getting short in the contest that was limited to 1 hour, 45 minutes.
Confidence gained from a rally from a 3-0 deficit the previous day in a 7-4 win over AASA-Swickard/McCafferty paid off for the Magic, which collected three hits, pressured the Huskies defense into a pair of errors and scored five times.
Kami Arnett walked to lead off the pivotal frame against Empire State reliever Madyson Bull — who came on after Amelia Jacob pitched three effective innings — Peyton Dwigins reached as she was hit by a pitch and Lilly Heath walked to load the bases. Kleiner — who had reached in both of her previous at-bats via a walk and a single — doubled in a pair of runs against Jacob (who was reinserted) to tie the game and advanced to third on an errant throw home.
“I was just looking to get something to the outfield, a hard groundball or anything to get the girls in who got on in front of me,” Kleiner said.
Kleiner scored her third run of the game when Hobbs tagged a ball into the gap in left center field to put Indiana in front 8-7. Vitangcol followed with a well-struck single and Hobbs pushed the issue and scored on a throw that sailed over the catcher to the backstop.
“Our coaches were just talking about how we’ve had perseverance this whole tournament and I think that’s how we got through it,” Kleiner added.
Once in the lead relievers Chloe Tanner and Vitangcol, who went 3-for-3, including a two-run single in the first inning, held Empire State scoreless in the fifth and the game reached its time limit with the Magic batting in the bottom of the inning.
It was a rare scoreless frame for the Huskies, who were difficult to deal with offensively in the early going. Leadoff hitter Alyssa Platero especially vexed Indiana.
Platero homered in each of the first two innings — a solo shot to left center field on the first pitch of the game and a two-run blast to center in the second inning — and in between, the Huskies played small ball.
Four consecutive bunts — which included a successful squeeze by Sydney Benware — flustered the Magic’s defense and helped create a four-run inning.
A failed bunt, twice in the same at-bat, oddly produced two more runs for Empire State in the fourth. With Benware aboard with a single, No. 9 hitter Ava Lichtenberger twice tried to lay down sacrifice bunts, but fouled off both attempts to go down in the count 1-2. Lichtenberg then swung away and drilled a pitch over the left center field to put her team in front 7-4.
The Magic have suffered just one loss in seven games (which came to Team North Carolina Thursday) and now turn their attention towards the final day of the tournament.
“We get the rest of the day off to rest up and get ready for hopefully a long day tomorrow,” said Neace, whose team opens championship bracket play with an 8 a.m. contest at Kennedy Sports Complex against Premier Fastpitch.
Added Kleiner: “If we do what we did today, persevere and pick each other up, we can go far.”
Empire State, which hails from the Yorktown Heights, New York area, dropped to 4-3 in the tournament. The Huskies have an 8 a.m. contest at Kennedy Sports Complex on Sunday against Centex Buzz Gold.
It would take three wins for either team to advance to the championship game at 2 p.m.
by Alissa Noe
THORNTON, Colo. — Kaitlyn Maston needed only one pitch to play hero for her Rock Gold Premier–De Leon/Manetta team at Riverwalk Ball Fields on Saturday.
After the Carolina Cardinals had tied up the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning, Maston stepped up to the plate, hoping to put an end to their rally. On the first pitch off of Carolina’s Kaylie DeChiccchis, she sent the ball flying over the center field wall.
Her team stampeded out of the dugout to meet her at home plate.
“I knew as soon as she hit it, it was gone,” head coach Luis de Leon said.
The 4-3 victory not only secured a spot in Sunday’s single elimination tournament for Rock Gold, but it opened up the floodgates for a player that had been hitting a wall all week during the 16U Colorado 4th of July tournament’s Supplemental Power Pool. She finished the matchup with three RBI off of three hits, all while batting a perfect 1.000.
It didn’t hurt that her ace, Courtney Wahlbrink, kept her team steady from the circle with eight strikeouts and only three earned runs — two of which came in the top of the sixth. Rock Gold, on the other hand, only struck out four times.
“It felt really great. I've been struggling a little this tournament and it felt really good to figure it out this game,” Maston said. “I just haven't been really squaring balls up right. I just knew I had to get on base for them to score me in. I was just focusing on staying on top and hitting a line drive.”
The Cardinals managed to get on the board early, as Madisyn Weathers’ line drive to shallow center field allowed Emma Salzman to score in the top of the first inning. Despite striking first, they couldn’t match the heat Maston was bringing in the batter’s box.
Maston got the ball rolling for Rock Gold in the bottom of the second inning when her fly ball to shallow left field sent Ava Difato home, then repeated in the fourth frame the feat with a shot to center field to propel another to score.
An inning later, Heather Robertson snuck a run in on a perfectly-placed bunt. Rock Gold led 3-1 heading into the sixth inning, with the hour, 45-minute time limit fast approaching.
Carolina didn’t waste it.
Cate Raines singled on a fly ball to center field as Shayna Suttles logged the second run for the Cardinals, then they scored again two at-bats later on an error at shortstop. Wahlbrink stopped the bleeding shortly thereafter, leaving two runners stranded after Carolina forced the bottom of the sixth.
Maston ended the suspense quickly after that. Rock Gold will now move into the single elimination bracket on Sunday for the finale of the tournament with a 4-3 record.
“It's been real competitive,” De Leon said. “We're facing good competition. We haven't faced any easy teams or anything like that.”
by Kyle Koso
LOVELAND, Colo. — Working through problems the right way when it all feels wrong is the hallmark of a successful softball program.
In 14u Gold action at the Sparkler Juniors event Saturday, the Tennessee Thunderbolts 2027 squad enjoyed an early boost from grabbing the lead. A patch of lousy weather fell at a bad time, affecting their pitcher, and a consequential error in left field allowed the FC Medina-Martinez 2027 team to tie the game at the Barnes Complex.
But the Bolts went to work in the fifth inning, methodically deploying the offense to plate two big runs, allowing the team to advance to Sunday’s championship bracket with a 7-5 victory.
“We preach to them all the time, it doesn’t matter if you made the mistake or what the situations now, we want you to learn and flush it — have a short memory and focus on what’s coming next,” said head coach David West. “If we focus on the negative, that ball will find you on defense … if you’re the pitcher who gave up a home run, or walk, or hit a batter, your next pitch is the one that can gets out of the inning.”
The Bolts started the fifth with a single from Madison Pinkelton, her third hit of the day. Reagan Schmitz dropped a surgical sacrifice bunt as Pinkelton moved to second base, and Hattie Graham launched a double to deep right-center that fell between the two outfielders to give the Bolts a 6-5 lead. After Graham stole third base and a walk, Irelynn Beecham made enough contact to bring in Graham — that’s when the game-time limit was reached, and the Bolts could celebrate their efforts.
“I feel like I just got out of a hitting slump, actually. I used to just swing for the fences, but now I’m trying to make good contact, move baserunners around and I’m getting hits that way,” Pinkelton said. “We’ve said we will play for each other, not let each other down.”
The Bolts scored four runs in the first — Mycah Mays and Beecham each drove in a run with singles, and Kinsley Belcher brought in two more with a two-out double. The Firecrackers countered with three runs in the top of the second, a messy inning with all the runs coming across on passed balls and wild pitches as the rain pelted down.
Bolts reliever Taylor Moreland settled down the situation and got through three innings; the Firecrackers tied it up 5-5 in the fifth when an error in left field allowed Sadie Burroughs to come all the way home after hitting a single.
But the Bolts had a plan, all capped by Graham’s double to the fence.
“That at-bat, I just timed her up. I asked my teammates if she had a lot of spin and they said no,” Graham said. “I just went with the pitch, honestly. We just stayed together, On the field, off the field, we are family. That’s what matters the most, having your teammate’s back.”
The Bolts start Sunday play with a 10 a.m. 14u Gold quarterfinal game.